Diet to Combat Depression

by Jerry Shaw

About Jerry Shaw

Jerry Shaw writes for Spice Marketing and LinkBlaze Marketing. His articles have appeared in Gannett and American Media Inc. publications. He is the author of "The Complete Guide to Trust and Estate Management" from Atlantic Publishing.


The foods you eat can help avoid feelings of depression or anxiety when its caused by nutritional deficiencies. A diet to combat depression includes certain foods that help boost levels of brain chemicals that improve your moods. These foods also play a role in a nutritious well-balanced diet to help you feel better so you can deal more constructively with stresses and tensions you may face. However, a change in diet should not be used in place of treatment by a health care professional; counseling and medication can improve your condition along with a healthy diet.

Mental Boosters

Include plenty of protein-rich foods in your diet, such as lean meats, poultry, fish and dairy foods. Protein unleashes amino acids as it breaks down in the body after eating. One amino acid from protein known as tyrosine moves from the bloodstream to the brain, where it increases levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters that improve mental alertness and help energize you, according to the Franklin Institute. These chemicals increase with certain medications doctors use to help depression patients.

Calming Foods

Decreased carbohydrate intake may lead to depression, according to Middle Tennessee State University., as carbohydrates can provide a calming effect to help relieve stressful conditions that can make you feel anxious or depressed. Carbohydrates release insulin into the bloodstream to increase levels of tryptophan. This amino acid then has an easier time crossing from the bloodstream to the brain, where it converts into serotonin. Increased levels of serotonin help you relax and also improve sleep, especially if you suffer from insomnia. Eat complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, to deal with anxiety. Simple carbohydrates contain sugars that may result in feelings of highs and lows. Chose whole-grain bread, cereal or pasta. Sources of carbohydrates also include potatoes, nuts, corn and rice.

Balancing Meals

Paying attention to how you feel helps you to know whether to eat more protein or carbohydrate foods. Because protein promotes excitement and energy, those foods aid you when you are feeling down or lift you when you need energy. Eat protein foods first to provide you with energy throughout the day. Having chicken or fish for lunch and going light on the bread maintains your energy needs. Carbohydrates may work better as evening meals when you want to relax.

Replace Deficiencies

Feeling depressed can result from nutritional deficiencies. A deficiency in selenium can lead to depression, agitation, anxiety and irritability. Whole-grain cereals, tuna, beef, chicken, dairy products, Brazil nuts and walnuts contain selenium. A lack of omega-3 fatty acids has been found in people with depression, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Certain fish contain plenty of omega-3s, including salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, halibut and herring.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or